How Do I Prevent the Flu from Speading?
We asked Dr. Todd Wolynn, a board-certified pediatrician and the president of Kids Plus Pediatrics of Squirrel Hill and Pleasant Hills, to respond to one of your health questions.
Q: One of my kids caught the flu at school. How do I prevent my other children from catching it?
A: Avoiding close contact, using tissues, washing your hands well and often, coughing into your elbow, and eating and sleeping well all help to minimize the spread of respiratory infections. But the single best way to prevent children from catching the flu is to vaccinate them before they’re exposed.
While the Influenza vaccine—which comes in nasal spray and injectable forms—is not 100-percent protective, it’s by far the most effective means of prevention against the spread and infection of this highly contagious disease. Each year’s flu vaccine is different, based on scientific assessments of the Influenza strains most likely to be encountered that year. The vaccine for this year includes protection against two common seasonal strains of the flu virus, as well as protection against the H1N1 strain.
Influenza is often mistakenly equated to “the stomach flu” or “a bad cold.” Classic Influenza results in high fevers, shaking chills, severe fatigue and terrible aches that make you feel as if your body has been beaten all over. When kids get the flu, they miss several days of school, and their caregivers can miss just as many days of work. Influenza is a serious and life-threatening disease—even in children; last year in the U.S., more than 275 kids, from newborn to 18 years of age, died as a result of contracting the flu.
Making sure your children follow good health and hygiene habits is essential to protecting them from any illness, but the best prevention against the flu and all its impacts is an early, safe and effective vaccination.